In the third town hall meeting hosted by an influential social network (after Twitter and Facebook), the President visited LinkedIn in California’s Silicon Valley. Answering questions from the network’s users, the day’s hot topics turned out to be getting Americans back to work, tax reform and public education.
Different from Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn is the professional, digital and egalitarian version of the well-connected cocktail party; it is the global online network used by job seekers looking for a way in. Back when I was a fresh-faced graduate looking for work in big bad London (not so long ago), LinkedIn was the first resource suggested by those who offered advice.
The President, armed with a jobs bill that promises to get Americans back to work, providing many with new skills and therefore a new doorway in to the labor market, could find no more fitting place to speak than at this particular social network, and in Silicon Valley at that.
“No part of the country better represents, I think, the essence of America than here,” the President said. “What you see is entrepreneurship…optimism and a belief that if you have a good idea and you are willing to put in the sweat, blood, and tears, not only can you succeed for yourself, but grow the economy for everybody. It’s that driving spirit that has made America an economic superpower.”
When CEO Jeff Weiner spoke briefly in his introduction about connecting talent to opportunity, the President could hardly have had a better cue to advertise just that. He promoted the proposed ‘Bridge-to-Work’ job training and education programs that will provide new skills, and an important focus on the long-term unemployed. There’s the talent. The opportunity will be taxation and regulation reform for small business, encouraging extended employment.
The president also touched upon needing to re-focus on public education. He was dismayed to announce that as China and India are making great headway, domestic rates of high school and college graduates are not increasing as they should be.
We need, the President said, to “prepare our people with the skills they need.” Responding to a question, he said that having the right skills is more than half the battle. Skilled but currently unemployed workers will be well positioned, he assured, to re-enter the market once the global economy rebounds.
In addition to skills, the second half of that very same sentence was about getting “our fiscal house in order in a way that’s fair and equitable.” In other words, taxation reform. A member of the audience, unemployed by choice after working at a start-up “down the street”, pleaded with the President: “Would you please raise my taxes?” It sounded like Buffet all over again — a stance that did not sit well with Republicans.
While speaking about Medicare and regulations, the President did hit back at Republican plans, but the main takeaway from this meeting, as with all the others the President has hosted since announcing his jobs plan, was that one of the biggest problems facing America is that “things have gotten so ideologically driven” and with everyone focused on the next election, party is being put ahead of country and as a result “we’re not able to solve our problems.”
The Republicans will be hosting their own town hall meeting at Facebook this evening. Let’s hope that just as the campaign calenders align, so does the commitment to the issues and finding a solution.
- President Looks to Georgia to Solve Skills Mismatch (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)
- At LinkedIn town hall, Obama touts jobs plan (politico.com)
- Obama pushes jobs plan at LinkedIn town hall (content.usatoday.com)
- Watch Barack Obama Live At LinkedIn Townhall (techcrunch.com)
- Obama touts jobs act at LinkedIn town hall (money.cnn.com)
- President’s Tax Incentive Plan for Economic Recovery (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)
- President Obama Talks Jobs at LinkedIn (blogs.wsj.com)